:bism: (In the Name of God, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful)
I think the following article nicely contextualizes recent discussions we've been having on IB about cultural attitudes towards women and rape and also broadly paints a picture from a rapist's point of view on why he raped; please note that this is a non-Muslim's story but that the takeaway lessons from this are broader and for all of us at any time concerned about the injustice of rape.
Why I became a sex offender and started raping women
When it comes to rape, much of the focus is still on the victim’s behaviour - but what we should be asking is, why do sex offenders do it? A convicted rapist tells his story
As told to Nisha Lilia Diu
7:00AM BST 07 Jul 2015
[not his real name]
I’ve got a rape conviction and two indecent exposure convictions. The rape happened first, in 2001. But, if I'm honest, I think I’d already started offending when I was 15. I’m 46 now.
I didn’t have much of a conscience about it when I was younger. No conscience at all. I was just out to get what I wanted, damn everybody else. It wasn’t about them, it was about me. Obviously I don’t feel like that anymore, but it's taken me a long time to leave that mentality behind. It took me going to prison and doing six years of treatment programs and counselling afterwards to feel different.
I got three years for the rape. I did 18 months, came out for about two weeks, got recalled for indecent exposure, spent another year in prison, came out, started to offend again - it was indecent exposure again - and got put back in. I spent three years in prison in total. I’ve been out for six years now.
I met all sorts of men in the sex offender wing in prison: doctors, vicars, airline pilots
I grew up in a little town in Oxfordshire. I was part of a rebellious crowd. We did drugs and weren't very serious about school.
I had lots of relationships, but I wouldn’t describe any of them as romantic. I was looking for one thing: sex. That’s what my life was about when I was that age, chasing girls.
I became very preoccupied with pornography and sex. I was very promiscuous. I’m not as promiscuous now as when I was younger - after all the courses I’ve done I’m a bit wiser about it. But when I was younger, oh, anybody. Whoever I could latch on to.
I was already offending back then. I did it because it was exciting. It was a buzz. It gave me a certain feeling of power over that person. I wouldn’t have said it then, but it’s obvious to me looking back that I was lost and out of control.
I’d had some very bad experiences as a child and I was trying to make myself feel good again. I wanted to feel in control. But it didn’t work. It didn’t make me feel any better.
In 2001, I raped my girlfriend. We’d been arguing and she’d left the house for a while and when she came back… I was very drunk. I forced her into the bedroom. I didn’t plan it. I still don’t completely understand why I did it. But I have a better sense of what triggers this behaviour in me now. I was under a lot of financial stress at the time. I wasn’t feeling good about myself. And I was drinking too much, which didn’t help. Now, I try not to drink at all.
I wasn’t shocked that I’d raped my girlfriend. I’d done it already in my past. I did feel bad, but more about the fact that I’d been physically rough with her than about the rape. It wasn’t until I’d spent about a year in prison that I started to understand how much I’d hurt her. Not just physically - really hurt her. Knowing that is going to affect me for the rest of my life.
When I woke up the next day, my girlfriend was gone. And, about a week later, I got arrested. The police just walked in and arrested me. I was in my underpants and slippers at the time.
I decided to plead guilty. Because it happened, and, for all my faults, I’ve never been much of a liar.
My sex offending was more about power and control than anything else
They’ve got a special wing for sex offenders in the prison I went to. I met all sorts of men in there: doctors, vicars, airline pilots. The sex offenders come from more varied backgrounds than the other offenders. They tend to be a bit older and more educated.
While I was in therapy in prison, I talked for the first time about what happened to me in my childhood. I was sexually abused for about two years, from when I was seven. I was abused by people who were friends of my family, a man and a woman, and I suspect that my family might have been aware of that.
And I do think it played a part in my later offending. Because I felt powerless for a long time after that, and my offending was always more about power and control than anything else. But that’s just me. That’s just one person. Other men I met in prison had very different stories.
A lot of people were in denial, not taking responsibility for their actions. Some people would say the woman had led them on, things like that. It’s easy to say it was her fault. But I realised the problem was me. It’s me. It’s not other people around me. The problem is me.
Nobody knows what the other inmates have done, except for the people you’re in group therapy with. I met a few men in my groups who were very ashamed of what they’d done. But I also met lots of men who had no guilt about their offences whatsoever. And, probably, when they’re released, they’ll go out and do it again.
It’s an attitude that, if I’m honest with you, I grew up seeing around me. I think some men like to boast and get away with things.
It makes them feel like the big guy. And some men just think they’re superior to women, don’t they? They think women belong in the kitchen or in the bedroom. That’s pretty much the message I got from my father. And I suspect there´s countless men out there that feel the same way.
My whole attitude to intimacy, to relationships, wasn’t normal.
As I got near the end of my 18 months I realised I didn’t want to be released. I felt daunted by the thought of going back into the community. I was worried about keeping my behaviour under control. And I knew I’d have to disclose my offences to future employers if I applied for certain jobs. It puts me off trying. But that’s no excuse. I have to get a job. I’m unemployed and living in a homeless hostel at the moment.
When I committed the indecent exposure, I was only two weeks out of prison. And, honestly, part of me just felt, "please put me back in". There was an element of trying to shock people, too. I wanted to be noticed. I was trying to get attention. It was a bad way to go about it obviously. But my whole attitude to intimacy, to relationships, wasn’t normal.
As soon as I was released the last time, I made contact with Circles
, a treatment program for sex offenders returning to the community. I was told: "If you’ve got any issues, if you’re thinking of reoffending, you can ring these people up and talk to them."
They’re all volunteers at Circles. They’re given special training, but they’re just ordinary people. To be honest, I wondered why on earth people would volunteer to do this. But they've made me realise there are people out there who want to help. And that makes me feel better, because sex offending is very stigmatised, obviously. It's a very difficult thing to open up to people about.
I saw them weekly for the first few months. And pretty much every time, I went home feeling I’d been enlightened in some way. They challenged my thinking.
For example, I met my last girlfriend when she was in rehab for drug and alcohol abuse. When I told them about our relationship, they said, “Oh, that’s nice. She’s probably a bit vulnerable, isn’t she? She’s been in rehab. And you’re a bit vulnerable, rebuilding your life right now.” It made me stop and think, “what am I doing? Am I taking advantage?” It’s things like that.
They also made me ask myself why I was thinking about sex all the time. I constantly have to work at that, at shifting my mind on to other things. It isn’t healthy. But - maybe it´s just getting older - I think I’m finally growing out of it.
I was saturated with pornography as a kid
Also, I avoid certain things. I only watch news and documentaries on TV. There’s too much sex in other programs and it was beginning to drive me mad. And I avoid pornography. I was saturated with the stuff as a kid, it was too much. Now I don’t watch it at all.
It’s also important for me to avoid stress. If things get stressful I have to work especially hard to think about something other than sex and offending. I don’t want to be thinking about that. It’s taken me a long time to break out of those patterns.
Circles has helped me tremendously. I think if I hadn’t had them I’d be back in prison again, for the same crimes, because I wouldn’t have dealt with my problems. I still meet them whenever I need to - about once a month. It makes me feel stronger knowing I have someone I can check in with and talk to instead of just going mad at home. It’s important to me to have that.
I decided to tell my last partner about my offences. Bloody hell, I was nervous. It was like dropping a bombshell. I said, “I need to tell you something.” She let me talk and then she said, “Thank you for telling me.” I think she was shocked, but she dealt with it really well, much better than I expected. We talked about it. But we’re not together anymore.
I’ve thought about getting in touch with my ex-partner, my victim, but I think it would probably be damaging for her. I did remain in contact with her for a long time after I was in jail and I think we said all we had to say. I got to tell her I was sorry.
The thing that stops me from reoffending now is that I don’t want to be that person that hurts people anymore. I’ve done a lot of hurting people, and it doesn’t feel good. I’m a different person now.